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Buying a horse

From: Julie

My husband and I are really interested in purchasing a horse, however, he has no experience and it's been 13 years for me. We have a mutual friend who owns a horse and I know "horse people" usually help out others when it comes to caring for a horse but....we're scared half to death to purchase a horse! We've been reading books and looking up stuff in magazines but have found nothing really "concrete" on purchasing a horse. We've heard mixed stuff about horse auctions (heard we might could get a good deal but don't know whether the horse is really healthy/well tempered etc.) so...HELP! Could you please give us a "nutshell" idea on purchasing a horse? We'd really appreciate it......:) Thank you for your time! Julie

Hi Julie! I'm glad you asked -- I do have some ideas for you. My first idea is that it would be a really good idea for you to wait and prepare before you purchase a horse. The process is very important, and it's also a lot of fun, so take your time, do it right, and you won't be sorry. After all, you want this to be a good experience for you, your husband, and the horse -- so here is what I would advise you to do.

1) Find a good riding instructor in your area, and take lessons -- both of you. A good instructor is the first step toward successful horse ownershp. Check with the American Riding Instructor Association to get information about certified instructors near you.

American Riding Instructors Association (ARIA)
28801 Trenton Court
Bonita Springs, FL 34134-3337
Tel: 239 948-3232
Fax: 239 948-5053

On the Web:

A good instructor won't limit the lessons to your riding skills -- she will also teach you how to handle and care for horses, and that's exactly what you'll both want to learn. ;-)

As soon as you begin to take your lessons, open a bank account and every month, put in the amount that it would cost to keep a horse at a nice facility nearby (your instructor will know). Do this without fail -- for two reasons. First, it's a little preview of the effect that ordinary horse upkeep will have on your finances. I'll get to the second reaoson later. ;-)

2) When you are happy with your instructor and your lessons, and you both feel that you are becoming competent in basic skills, talk to your instructor about finding a horse to lease or part-lease. Leasing is a wonderful way to "try out" horse ownership -- if it doesn't work out well, and you decide that ownership is not for you, you aren't faced with the necessity of selling the animal.

3) If the lease goes well, ask your instructor to begin looking around for a suitable horse for you to purchase -- or perhaps TWO horses, since part of the fun of riding, for couples, is spending time together on horseback. Your instructor will know the local horseowners and the other professionals in the area, and by this time, she'll have a very clear idea of how ready you are to own a horse, what sort of riding you will want to do, and what sort of horse is likely to suit you best. This may be a year or two years after you begin taking lessons -- I assure you, it's worth the wait. Horses are complex, delicate animals, and everything about them is expensive, with (sometimes) the possible exception of the purchase price! By the time you buy your horse, you will know how to handle it, how to look after it, and how to ride it. You'll know the signs of health -- and how to notice when the horse is getting sick. You'll know when to call the vet and the farrier -- and you'll know the vet and farrier you want to call. And you'll have your instructor as your coach and ally, which is absolutely invaluable.

Oh yes... remember that I said there was a second reason to put that monthly horse- upkeep money into the "horse" savings account, starting long before you ever began to look for a horse? Here's the second reason: that money is going to build up, so that by the time you actually BUY a horse, you'll have the funds on hand and will be able to make that initial investment in horse, tack, and equipment. If there's more than you need -- say it's taken two or three years for you to make that purchase -- then keep the money in the account and be glad. It will come in very handy when you need a new saddle or when you get a surprise vet bill!

Take your time, do it right. Getting there is at least half the fun, and most adults aren't able to feel confident when they don't feel competent. If you do it this way, by the time you buy that horse, you'll BE competent, and you'll be ready.


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